HARARE – Jessie Majome, MDC legislator for Harare West, has refused to pay her radio and television licences to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBC) saying the channel does not give her value for money.
Majome has approached the Constitutional Court seeking to enforce her rights after ZBC licence inspectors had visited her home in July and demanded that she produce a TV licence within seven days.
The inspectors, who were accompanied by police officers, warned her that failure to do so will lead to her prosecution.
Majome, a senior member of MDC, argued that she is not prepared to pay for the licence as ZBC is not impartial in its dealings, particularly regarding the coverage of events, positions and programmes of political parties operating in Zimbabwe on its television and radio stations.
“ZBC is openly biased towards Zanu PF party which is led by President Robert Mugabe,” Majome said in her court application.
“The bias applies in its general reporting, news casting and programming. This bias towards Zanu PF is detrimental to other bona fide political parties, particularly MDC of which I am a senior member.”
She argued that the court should declare that non-compliance with sections 38 B2 38c and 38D 1-4 of the Broadcasting Service Act does not constitute a criminal offence arguing those sections were themselves unconstitutional.
“By virtue of partisan programming 1st respondent (ZBC) infringes section 58 (2) which guarantees my freedom association,” Majome’s court papers say.
“ZBC compels me to associate with Zanu PF by forcing me to know and hear at least something about Zanu PF and its programmes and policies each and every time I watch ZTV or tune into any of its four radio stations.
“It is my right not to associate with Zanu PF but I am unwittingly forced to associate with it in this manner. I am also entitled to enjoy my right to watch television and even watch ZTV if I chose but I should be protected from 1st respondent’s sustained efforts to indoctrinate me with Zanu PF ideologies and mantra.”
She added: “Given my personal background, political involvement and persuasion as I have highlighted and ZBC bias towards Zanu PF, I submit that a law that compels me to pay ZBC for a television licence makes an unwilling and unwitting supporter of a political party which I am personally and officially opposed to.”